The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Kriya-Yoga: Procedure of the Worship of Vasudeva which is chapter 29 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-ninth chapter of the Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 29 - Kriyā-Yoga: Procedure of the Worship of Vāsudeva

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:

1. After worshipping him mentally with various articles (and services) of worship, the devotee should invoke him and establish (infuse) him in the idol of Viṣṇu by Sthāpana Mudrā (i.e. a certain position of fingers practised in worship to indicate that the deity invoked is established in the idol).

2. Then he should invoke the deities constituting him (i.e. his subordinate deities) by their respective separate Mantras or by their names (which itself is a) mantra, and then should establish them well.

3. He should ring (or play upon) some musical instrument like the bell and others and should make a clapping sound. Presuming that the deity has got up from sleep, he should brush (i.e. imagine to brush) the teeth.

4-5. He should give water mixed with Śyāmāka (a rice-like corn), Viṣṇukrānta (a plant like Clitoria terntea), Dūrvā grass and a lotus as Pādya (water for washing the feet) to the Lord. Then in the water meant for sipping as Arghya, he should put sandal-paste, rice-grains with unbroken ends, flowers, ends of Darbha grass, gingelly seeds, mustard seeds, barley seeds. Dūrvā grass should be put after filling the vessel for Arghya with water.

6. He should give water made fragrant with the outer skin of nutmeg, cloves, cardamoms, Kaṅkola and the fragrant root of the plant Andropogon muricatus as Ācamanīya and then should bathe Hari.

7. At first he should smear the person of the Lord with oil from fragrant flowers. Then he should cleanse the body by rubbing and cleansing it with Kalka (viscous sediments of ground and crushed oily substance).

8. With steady, unruffled mind he should baṃe (ṃe idol of Viṣṇu) with (Pañcāmṛta i.e.,) milk, curds, ghee, honey and sugar separately along with their respective Mantras. [1]

9. He should then bathe it with pure, hot, fragrant water. Then he should slightly worship it with sandal-paste etc. on the pedestal for bath.

10. The Brāhmaṇa should cast aside the stale flowers etc. (of the previous worship) to the northern side. He should perform the ablution with address as Rājan etc., or with Sāman hymns or the special occult lore of Mahāpuruṣa, reciting Śrīsūkta (RV 1.165) and Viṣṇusūkta (RV IX.I).

11. Initiated women, Śūdras should perform the ablution-ceremony with (i.e. reciting) Viṣṇu-Sahasranāma (‘A thousand names of Viṣṇu’) or with one hundred and eight names.

12. Then wiping him off with a piece of cloth, he should dress him and Rādhā with very costly clothes with great love, according to his own capacity.

13. He should give fine, white, auspicious sacred thread to the Lord. He should put ornaments of gold and precious stones all over his person.

14. According to the season, he should make the sandal-paste mark or one of thick saffron-paste, at the proper place as is customary.

15. After adorning Rādhikā with ornaments as are proper for her, he should draw with saffron and unbroken grains of rice the Tilaka mark on the forehead and decorative figures on her person.

16. After showing the mirror, he should worship him with garlands of flowers (round his neck) and chaplets or garlands of flowers adorning the head and with one thousand sprouts of Tulasī leaves.

17. One should worship the Lord with a Tulasī leaf or a flower uttering (with every leaf or flower) a name of Viṣṇu in the dative case followed by namaḥ (‘obeisance to’) (e.g. keśavāya namaḥ) (and thus complete the thousand names).

18. With powders of fragrant and auspicious materials he should make the incense-buming of the Daśāṅga type and with Amṛta etc.

19. He should prepare a lamp with a pair of wicks filled with ghee. He should make the great offering of pure food according to his capacity.

20. One should place (in a plate) on a four-footed stool Saṃyāva (i.e. a cake of wheat fried with ghee and made oblong in shape, spread over with sugar), Pāyasa (i.e. rice boiled in milk), Apūpa (a small round cake of flour and meal), Śaṣkulī-khaṇḍa (a piece of a kind of baked cake), Laḍḍukas (sweet balls), Pūrikā (a kind of cake filled in ghee or oil, called Purī in Marathi), Polikā (a cake with sweet material inside and baked, called Poḷī in Marathi), boiled rice mixed with kidney beans, condiments, curds, milk, ghee etc.

21. He should, with affection, make him take meals and offer water at intervals (to drink). In half a Muhūrta (24 minutes) he should give water to wash hands therewith.

22. The remnants of the food of the Lord, having been assigned to Viṣvaksena and other deities should be placed aside for one’s own sake. The ground should be cleansed.

23. As ‘mouth-perfume’ to bring fragrance to the breath of the deity, he should give a betel leaf with the powder of betel-nut, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and other such materials wrapped in it.

24. Giving a coconut and other fruits and Dakṣiṇā as per one’s capacity, he should perform the waving of light (before the Lord) accompanied with instrumental music.

25. After offering him a handful of flowers, he should then praise him with eulogies meant for him. He should glorify his name while singing and dancing in his presence. (This is the Kīrtana form of Bhakti.)

26. After performing it (Kīrtana) for a Muhūrta (48 minutes) and circumambulating the deity, he should prostrate himself like a staff, slightly transversal to the South, on the ground.

27. A man should prostrate himself touching the ground with eight parts of the body (viz. two hands, two fed, two knees, chest and head) or five parts of his body (viz. two hands, two feet and head); but a woman should pay obeisance with only the five parts of her body and never otherwise.

28. The prostration is called Aṣṭāṅga (‘eight-limbed’)[2] when it is performed with two feet, two hands, two knees, chest, head, sight, speech and mind.

29. The prostration is called Pañcāṅga (‘five-limbed’) when it is performed with two hands, mind, (bending down of) head, speech and sight.[3] (There are six factors involved, though it is called Pañcāṅga unless we presume the pair of hands as one.) In the performance of worship these two types of prostrations are superior.

30. “O Lord, I have submitted myself to you. Please protect me who am afraid of Saṃsāra.” Praying to him thus, he should pursue his regular Vedic studies (recitation) to the best of his abilities.

31. After meditating on the rest and after taking (permission) given by him reverently by head, one should establish as before the invoked Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the lotus of his heart and should send away all the Aṅgadevas to their respective places.

32. After laying down the idol of Hari in a cane-box for rest or shutting up the image in the temple by closing the door, he should perform Vaiśvadeva (‘offering of cooked food to all gods’).

33. Distributing the remnant of food offered to Hari among his dependents and after enjoying (i.e. consuming) it himself, he should pass the remaining part of the day in (listening to or narrating) his stories etc.

34. He who daily performs the great worship as per procedure stated above, and worships Viṣṇu with devotion, becomes his (i.e. Viṣṇu’s) attendant.

35. Ascending in a refulgent heavenly car coveted by Devas, the worshipper, endowed with a brilliant celestial body, goes to Hari’s region called Goloka.

36. Or even if he performs everyday worship of Hari, he attains his desired objects along with (the four objectives of human life, viz.) Virtue (Dharma), Wealth, Pleasure and Final Emancipation.

37. If one is incapable of performing worship of Hari along with Rādhā as per above procedure, he should worship only Hari with whatever articles of service become available.

38. A Brāhmaṇa with a mantra of twelve syllables (oṃ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya) and others with Hari’s name as Mantra should perform the worship of Hari. It is the devotion only which confers Siddhi (i.e. accomplishment of certain supernatural powers).

39. On Ekādaśī (eleventh day in either half of a month) and especially on the birth-festival of Hari and such oṃer days, Mahāpūjā (‘a great worship’) should be celebrated to the best of one’s abilities by all Vaiṣṇavas.

40. Even if one performs only the installation (of Hari’s idol) in a temple built by another, he becomes absolved of all sins and becomes a sovereign emperor (of all the world).

41. A rich person should get built a beautiful, firm (durable) temple of Hari. He who does so will get the kingdom of the three worlds, without any thorn (troublesome person or enemy).

42. He who enhances the continuity of the worship by instituting the service or job (of worshipping Hari), will really obtain excellent happiness in the world of Viṣṇu.

43. He who lays the foundation, starts the construction of Viṣṇu’s temple and (provides for) his worship, certainly attains lordship comparable to Vāsudeva.

44. He who deprives one of his employment of Hari’s worship given either by himself or by others, experiences tortures caused by the god of Death in hell for a period of a Kalpa.

45. The doer (of an action), one who urges to do it, the person helping and the consenter—all these four have share in an act meritorious or otherwise.

46. O Nārada! In this way procedure of Kriyā-Yoga has been described to you by me. It is by this that the Ekāntika Dharma will be accomplished by those who are inclined to it.

47. A person who brooding over objects of pleasure in the mind, outwardly performs the worship of Hari, will never obtain the declared fruit even by using a great amount of material for worship.

48. Restraining one’s own mind wandering here and there in vulgar pleasure, a person, desirous of liberation, should be devoutly engaged in the worship of Viṣṇu.

49. Without worshipping Hari, persons following Mahāvrata, ṃough performers of severe penance, intelligent ones who have studied the Vedas and who are practising Sāṅkhya and Yoga, will never attain Siddhi (i.e. Mokṣa).

Footnotes and references:


They are ‘āpyāyasva’ (RV 1.91.1b), ‘dadhikrāvaṇo’ (RV IV. 39.6), ‘ghṛtam mimikṣe' (RV II.3.11), ‘madhu vātā’, (RV 1.90.6), ‘svaduḥ pavasva’ (RV IX. 85.6). The first word of these Mantras suggests the material used for bathing. Beyond this tenuous relation, the meanings of the mantras show their irrelevance. Purāṇika Mantras used for this are meaningful.


Pūjā-Prakāśa (p.88) describes these two types of prostrations on the authority of Vyāsa but they are probably traditional verses of unknown authorship as given above. Verse 28 defines Aṣṭāṅga but gives three more, making it ‘Ekādaśāṅga’. But the parts of the body actually touching the ground are eight. Smṛti Candrikā I, p.204 supports v 28 above.


In this the body does not touch the ground except in the case of feet. The prescription of this type of prostration to women is obvious.

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